Wednesday, June 23, 2010

FoodTrek: To the Beermobile, Robin!

Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na - Brewer's Festival! It's Beer-thirty or close to Beer-o'-clock somewhere in the world and Washington knew how to do it up right with sudsy goodness at the annual Brewer's Festival, put on by the Washington Beer Commission. Literally hundreds of beers were presented by over fifty brewers from across the country for a weekend to celebrate dads and beer, and I'm sure Duffman would have heartily approved. Oh Yeah!

Duffman covets this car and hip-thrusts in the direction of it - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I should make a Father's Day-related note that while my dad is beer's #1 Fan, his choice tends to lean towards Bud Light, and having it from the bottle is considered a special occasion. In a household where I recall such classics as Hamms and the generic "Beer" written on white cans gracing the shelves of our hallowed fridge, I can't say I was raised with any particular pedigree of brew-sipping. But you leave the nest, learn new things and discover there's a wide, wonderful world of frosty beverages that don't require a cute animal mascot to make the product more appealing. With the growth of craft beermaking steadily on the rise, festivals like the Brewer's Festival are like a foamy oasis, with a strong aroma of hops in the air. This is probably my favorite of all the local beer festivals -- St. Edwards Park is the ideal location, with the huge monastery in the backdrop for tents teeming with brewery tables, cider and wine tastings, food vendors that just need to say Sausages! to get a crowd to gather, and a big stage for live music. And yes, I saw some people moshing near the stage. This is why it's held outdoors for the open air and soft ground for which to collapse upon.

Wholesome family fun - beer and bouncy castles - Photos by Wasabi Prime

So, to brass tacks -- what were the notable beers? As always, one of the longest lines was local favorite, Redmond's Black Raven Brewing Co. The trick to these shindigs is to go right when it opens and get to all the popular samples before the lines get crazy or worse, they just run out. I got a sample of their Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch, which was a nice, rich, lightly smoky-flavored beer, which is a good overall sense of their beer flavor profile, and why the lines get so crazy-long. They qualified as a "two sample" beer, because you had to get a sample from another brewery to drink while waiting in line for the sample you really want.

One of my early beeline samples was to the Rogue-owned Issaquah Brewhouse, which offered their White Frog, a Belgian style wit beer. It was a light, summery beer, but I think I still love their fall/winter beers best, which have been standouts at previous festivals. But I have to give them extra props for handing out temporary frog tattoos and green condoms with a frog printed on the wrapper. Beer, tats and rubbers -- it's like the Trinity. Cheers to your smart-thinkin' Issaquah Brewhouse!

An early view of the festival, before the crowds totally obscured the booths - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I had a chance to chat with the owner of Gallaghers' from Edmonds, a brewery where people can brew their own beer, plus they brought some brews of their own. Their Citra Blond was like a Sha-zam of citrus flavor, minus any actual citrus, as the hops provided that kick of vitamin C goodness. Another charming summer-themed beer was Elysian's Avatar Jasmine IPA -- very floral, so it's something that's good to have on its own or bookended with really light-tasting beers, so the jasmine flavor doesn't feel off-putting. Another summer beer I liked was Seattle's Schooner Exact Brewing Co's Seamstress Union, a raspberry wheat having a beautiful blush, like grapefruit juice. It had a nice mellow grain flavor with fruity notes that wouldn't put off the "no fruity beers" brew-drinker.

Beer, beer, and more beer -- and cans of beer! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

What would probably put off the "no fruity beers" brew-drinker is this part -- I love ciders. Not the sugary, illegitimate booze-child of Zima and Hard Lemonade, but real ciders that truly take on the flavor of the orchard. The cider tables are usually slower traffic, since they require two tokens, but that's because they pack a higher alcoholic punch. I visited the Snowdrift Cider table not once but twice, to sample their Dry Cider and Semi Dry New English style ciders, which were crisp and fresh-flavored, especially the Semi Dry. They're based out of Wenatchee and their bottles of sparkling apple goodness is starting to make its way into the Seattle area. They mentioned they'll soon be carried in specialty stores like Malt and Vine, so I look forward to seeing their lovely-designed labels soon in shops.

In the immortal words of Ice Cube, I gotta say it was a good day. Even if the sun made no cameo appearance. Actually, for something like the Brewer's Festival where you're sitting out in the middle of a grassy park with little to no cover for hours at a time, an overcast day is ideal. Learning from past festivals, it's good to bring your own food and snacks, just to save on the pricier festival food, although the Tim's Cascade chips booth was a rare bargain for $2 full-sized bags. Salt and Vinegar chips, thy name is Kryptonite. Aside from that festival indulgence and a trip past Bluebird Ice Cream's tent for a stout-flavored ice cream run, people brought a wide mix of nuts, jerky, cheese, crackers and veggies, which made for a perfect snack buffet to keep the beer from going to anyone's head. I can gladly say that the Kraken was released in a responsible, non-belligerent manner.

Beer festival tips - be protected and bring your own snacks - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Much Wasabi Thanks to the Washington Beer Commission for throwing yet another fantastic festival and for the invitation to raise a glass at one of my favorite events!

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  1. I know this post is probably quite old, but PLEASE PLEASE tell me what that car is? - to me it looks like a 4 wheeler Messersmit? (thats probably spelt wrong!)

    Jackie (UK)in 2012

    1. Hey Jackie - the only info I have on the car is that it's a 1958 BMW that they just call "The Pike Mobile," which of course isn't the official model name, but I think it's an old Isetta or "Little Iso." I looked it up and I believe it's originally of Italian design, but was built under licenses in France and Germany from 1955-1962, around the time when the Messerschmitt was made. The Pike Mobile definitely has the BMW logo on it; I remember thinking it was funny to see that logo on such a funky little Italian-styled car. And it totally still runs, it's not just for show!


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